From the time Sarah Hill was in 7th grade, she knew something was wrong. The Maryville resident says she began to feel a strange fluttering her heart, and it coincided with difficulty breathing and anxiety attacks. Sarah’s parents took her to see a cardiologist, but they were told it was nothing more than anxiety, and she would need to learn to cope with it. Meanwhile, the unpredictable heart flutters continued at least once a month. “It was so frustrating,” Sarah says, “because I knew something was going on.”
After seven years of feeling certain there was an undiagnosed problem, she was proven right. Coming home from a night shift at work, her heart began that familiar fluttering – only this time it was faster and more persistent. “Usually, it would last 10 or 15 minutes,” Sarah explains. “This time it went for over an hour.”
An EKG revealed she had supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), an intermittent, abnormally fast heart beat that’s not associated with the things that usually increase a person’s heart rate, like exercise, high fever, or stress.
Sarah was referred to Jeffrey Baerman, MD, at Knoxville Heart Group, who performed cardiac ablation at Fort Sanders Regional. Ablation uses catheters inserted in the groin and threaded to the heart to correct structural problems that result in arrhythmias. Baerman is an experienced electrophysiologist in the Knoxville area who performs ablation on younger patients. At the time, Sarah was 18 years old. “It was scary, but all the nurses had experience,” Sarah says. “Dr. Baerman especially, he’s been in the field for a long time, so I really had no doubts.”
Sarah and her parents also appreciated the way Dr. Baerman made an effort to explain everything and set them at ease. After successful removal of fibers that were causing the problem, Sarah is cleared to live an active and long life. “It’s like it’s not even there,” Sarah says. “It’s awesome!”
Fully recovered and looking ahead, Sarah has decided to enter the field of nursing. She’s always been fascinated by the inner workings of the human body, and her experience through the ablation procedure has made her even more so. “They took care of me, so I want to take care of somebody else,” Sarah says.